Week 6- Practitioners Report

Practitioners Report

David Hashimoto A.K.A Action Movie Dad.

This man has some serious skills and has been an inspiration for me for vfx. A little while ago I found a clip of what he has been working on on Facebook, one of those recommendations from the lovely people at Facebook – thank-you.

He turns his son’s everyday adventures into a masterpiece.

In 2005 he left The university of Southern California and finished his internship at Paramout Pictures. He has worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios as an artist and In 2005 he went to work with Dreamworks Animation where he worked as an After Effects Artist  on various things like Me an My Shadow and Kungfu Panda 2. He left Dreamworks Animation in April 2015 and is currently making his own videos under the name Action Movie Dad where he creates some amazing clips and tutorials.

I have recently being trying to re create some of his work in After Effects by watching his tutorials on RedGiant.com.

The one with the Dr Strange portal effect.

I have managed to recreate the portal effect for this and could probably do it without watching the tutorial now minus the part with the actor.

Danial Hashimoto uses After Effects in all his works but has the plugin Trapcode by Red Giant.

In particular he uses Particular, that was no way intended but couldn’t think of another way to put it and was a little amusing so I am leaving it there.

Particular gives a little more control over the particles themselves,  I have learnt how to make particles emit from lights, use null layers, tracking etc.

Maybe this is a bit more difficult to deconstruct in the way of Formal Elements because he is recreating the way something is rather than creating something completely new. I can say that the color yellow is used in Dr Strange after he meets the Ancient one (Tilda Swinton). I feel that as it is placed in Tibet, and the color of the robes that Tilda wears is close to Saffron Yellow which comes from the colors prisoners used to wear which means Humility, free form materialistic things.

“Ensō (circle) is a sacred symbol in the Zen school of Buddhism and is one of the most common subjects of Japanese calligraphy, even though it is a symbol and not a character. You may hear it called the Circle of Enlightenment, the Infinity Circle and even the Lost Symbol of Reiki. If you actually took the meanings of the two Kanji symbols that make up the word, ensō would translate as Mutual Circle or Circle of Togetherness.”

Only when Dr strange truly learnt to let go of the baggage he carried and let go of any physical barriers was he truly able to open the portal to get back from the cold where The ancient One left him. Which would be classed as enlightenment by Buddhists.

So maybe that is why the portal is round and yellow because of the Journey that Stephen Vincent Strange had to go through to get to a point in his life that he was truly happy – enlightenment only truly allowed him to become the great sorcerer he is.

He even gave up his own future to keep Dommoru stuck in an endless loop to keep the rest of the world safe.


For the Dr Strange clip Daniel took two films, one of his son leaving school and one arriving home. They were not lined up so he spent two hours doing some really complicated techniques (which worked really well) to line them up. He used a mask to manipulated the position of his son so it looked like it lined up and then made a guide circle and turned down the opacity and created two null objects and a light. He had to rename the light to Emitter that allowed him to use it as an Emitter otherwise After Effects would not recognize it. He made the Null object a parent to the Emitter and the Emitter parent to the Guide Circle. He did this so that he can rotate the Null Object and have the Emitter follow the path of the guide circle my copying the position of the Guide Circle and applying it to the position of the Emitter which gives the effect of a Catherine Wheel. catherine-wheel-firework.JPG

After this Daniel adds the Particular to the solid and changes the settings so it starts to look like the Dr Strange Portal. After he has it like he wants it he blends the 2nd scene so when the boy opens the portal and it comes towards him it is a seamless transition to his home scene. To add to the effect he adds sparks that comes off his son’s shoes which is done by motion tracking.


Daniel Hashimoto has influenced me creatively because of what he has created from a simple recording of his son in the park on a toy boat to being in a sea storm, from playing in a toy shop to destroying it with a lightsabre, sofa jumping to watching out for lava. The polar express coming down his street, Jumping in a puddle and disappearing. These videos have created fun and enjoyment and plus they look pretty cool, I want to learn how he did it and try and recreate it so I can learn and adapt those skills to create my own animations/videos.


Sam Nicholson

Sam founded Stargate Studios in 1989, it is a visual effects production company in Pasadena with over 125 Visual Effects artists and Technicians.

He graduated from UCLA graduate school of Fine Arts and has been active in film and television for over 30 years. His first job in visual effects was to work on Star Trek 1 and Max Headroom as supervisor visual effects artist and recently he worked on Heroes along with many others such as:

  • The Watcher in the woods (1979)
  • The Devil and Max Devlin  (1981)
  • Halloween II                           (1981)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  • Two of a Kind (1983)
  • The Returning (1983)
  • The Running Man (1987)
  • Future Flight  (1987)
  • Ghostbusters II  (1989)
  • Millennium  (1989)
  • The Dreamer of Oz  (1990)
  • Highlander II: The Quickening  (1991)
  • Afterburn  (1992)
  • The Water Engine  (1992)
  • Interceptor  (1992)
  • Lifepod  (1993)
  • The Hidden II  (1993)
  • M.A.N.T.I.S  (1994)
  • Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance  (1994)
  • Island City  (1994)
  • Naked Gun 33 1/3 The Final Insult  (1994)
  • Sliders (1995)
  • Twister (1996)
  • Moll Flanders  (1996)
  • Robo Warriors (1996)
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack (26 episodes) (1995 – 1996)
  • Dante’s Peak (title Sequence) (1997)
  • Asteroid (1997)
  • Volcano: Fire on the Mountain (1997)
  • The Lake (1998)
  • Mafia! (1998)
  • Houdini (1998)
  • Brimstone
  • Can of Worms
  • The Thirteenth Year
  • Gen-X-Cops
  • Pirates of Silicon Valley
  • Tempting Heart
  • The Soul Collector
  • Y2K
  • Purple Storm
  • Millenium Man
  • 2000 AD
  • Race Against Time
  • Quarantine
  •  Running Mates
  • CSI: Crime scene Investigation
  • The Wonderful World of Disney
  • Boycott
  • Tomcats
  • Repli-Kate
  • 40 days and 40 nights
  • The Guru
  • FastLane
  • Carrie
  • Second String
  • Helen Of Troy
  • Traffic
  • Spartacus
  • Breakin’ All the Rules
  • 5ive Days to Midnight
  • Seed of Chucky
  • Earthsea
  • Into the West
  • Urban Legends: Bloody Mary
  • Fields of Freedom
  • Las Vegas
  • Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King
  • Grey’s Anatomy: Every Moment Counts
  • Ugly Betty: 22 Episodes
  • Heroes: 21 Episodes
  • CSI: New York (2007)
  • Knight Rider (2010)
  • Maggie Hill (2009)
  • 24 (2009)
  • ER (2001 – 2009)
  • General Hospital (2009)
  • Defying Gravity (2009)
  • Private Practice (2009)
  • Outsourced (2010)
  • Adventure Scouts (2010)
  • The Walking Dead (2010)
  • Pan AM (2011)
  • Beauty and The Beast: A Dark Tale (2012)
  • Smash (2012)
  • Phantom  (2013/2014)
  • Soulmates (Visual Effects Producer)/(Visual Effects Supervisor)

This man has clearly worked on many titles and the ones that stick out to me are some of the firsts, Sliders, a great TV series, Using Portals which is relevant to the work I am trying to do – Portal Particle effects. They are many more classics here that have great effects, some better now than what they were from 1989. From Star Trek II and GhostBusters II to the Walking Dead and Heroes.

It was hard to find any work specifically by Sam Nicholson and not by the company itself unlike Action Movie Dad but you can see that he has worked on these films and TV series in various ways.

The Use of 3D modelling is quite apparent in some of the show reels along with Green and Blue screens. Blue screens are used when a lot of foliage is needed to be included. So 3D modelling, texturing and animation are used within the films with a lot of VFX using various methods. The studio would of done a lot of research before filming, followed by concept art and box modelling, to 3D modelling, texturing and filming and photography with Particle Effects and tracking for the way people move among other things.

Stargate Studio’s Demo Reels.


This was a very interesting task for me, i have been really interested in animation from when I started researching it and with all the different techniques that can be learnt. It definitely has made me rethink what i want to do for my FMP. It was a lot easier to find information on Daniel as it was Sam because Daniel is self employed and anything he creates is solely done by him, but when it comes to Sam, he is part of a company where hundred’s of people could work on one project such as Heroes so it’s hard to find information about what he has created himself.




Colourlovers.com. (2017). Color + Design Blog / Colors of Religion: Buddhism by COLOURlovers :: COLOURlovers. [online] Available at: http://www.colourlovers.com/blog/2007/08/20/colors-of-religion-buddhism [Accessed 12 Apr. 2017].

Hashimoto, D. (2017). Daniel Hashimoto. [online] IMDb. Available at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1885366/ [Accessed 12 Apr. 2017].

Modern Zen. (2017). Enso – Modern Zen. [online] Available at: http://www.modernzen.org/enso.htm [Accessed 10 Mar. 2017].

STARGATE STUDIOS. (2017). Sam Nicholson ASC CEO & Founder – STARGATE STUDIOS. [online] Available at: http://stargatestudios.net/sg/sam-nicholson/ [Accessed 12 Apr. 2017].




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